As I type this, I'm sitting on the judge's bench waiting for a jury trial to begin. The defendant is an attorney of my acquaintance who has his own attorney (so, not a fool). The jury panel consists of 20 or so people who are waiting patiently for me to begin, unlike the last time we attempted to try this case, when only 6 people showed up for jury duty. I'm glad of that, because otherwise, I would have had to send the police out to round up a "pickup jury" - which, as the name implies, consists of currently available hapless citizens of the municipality - which is never a fun process.
The prosecutor in this court is a judge in another jurisdiction. He's also my backup prosecutor in a court where I'm the primary prosecutor. I'm the backup judge in another jurisdiction for the judge in the court where I'm the primary prosecutor. Confused? Don't be. This is an issue of jurisdiction. Each city is its own judicial jurisdiction, which means that I can be a prosecutor in one city, a judge in another and a defense counsel in a third without running afoul of the conflict of interest provisions of our Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. It's a question of hats: I can deal with another attorney where I'm the prosecutor and he or she is the defense counsel, and deal with that same attorney where I'm the defense counsel and the other attorney is the judge.
There are those who would say there is no way one person can deal with another in two different relationships, that there must be some favoritism or bias that keeps these relationships from being ethical. I've been a prosecutor for 32 years, a defense counsel for 29 years and a judge for 13 years. In all that time, I've only been approached one time to give a defendant a break because of a relationship I had with his attorney. My word is a precious thing, as it should be for every lawyer. Those who try to turn relationships to unfair advantage are the exception rather than the rule. And a reputation, once sullied, is hard to retrieve.